Monday verdict: New year, fresh start – commit to the plan please, Mick

Mick McCarthy makes his way to the dug-outs past fans at Portman Road last night

Mick McCarthy makes his way to the dug-outs past fans at Portman Road last night

New year, fresh start.

Brexit, Trump and umpteen high-profile celebrity deaths means 2016 will take up plenty of pages in the history books, but for Ipswich Town it was not a 12 months to dwell on.

Let’s be clear, it was by no means an unmitigated disaster, just a an uninspiring, insipid period of steady stagnation and staleness for the Championship’s longest-serving club.

The statistics tell the story. Played 46 league games – W15 D16 L16 F43 A46. That record usually sees teams finish somewhere between 12th and 16th in the second-tier.

There was a couple of all-too-predictable first-hurdle cup defeats to lower league opposition too.


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It’s been about more than just results though. It’s been about a lack of entertainment value and no clear plan for progress. Treading water is fine as long as long as there is the odd bit of excitement and some hope for better days ahead, but there’s been precious little of that.

Whisper these words, but a chink of light has finally opened at the end of the tunnel.

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Owner Marcus Evans has put down in black and white what his strategy for success is. It’s pretty much what we’d all guessed from reading between the lines, but nevertheless it needed to be spelt out to remove all doubt. Town are at the wrong end of an uneven financial playing field and the only way to compete is to produce top academy players, spend sensible fees on young players with potential to develop and provide a competitive wage bill to keep hold of talent.

Evans also says it’s important to give managers times and that playing entertaining and attractive football is important.

Great. We all like the sound of that. Anyone with even the slightest bit of realism about them recognises that is the right way forwards.

The problem has been that Mick McCarthy’s low-risk, ultra-pragmatic approach has so often felt at odds to that strategy. He has not given homegrown players time to develop, while any attempts to play more expansively have often been abandoned at the slightest hint of a set-back.

Last Friday night’s 2-1 home win over Bristol City raises hope that there can be synergy between manager and masterplan. Young left-back Myles Kenlock got a game and played well, midfield prodigy Andre Dozzell is back in the frame and made a huge impact off the bench, while the tactical shackles appeared to have been loosened.

This is a transitional period. A greater emphasis on entertainment and development rather than an obsession with grinding out results will be accepted. McCarthy now needs to commit to that approach.

– See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for QPR v Ipswich match preview.

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